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Europe: Anti-gay violence on the rise

Thu 7 Jun 2007 In: International News

A new survey of hate crimes in Europe by a leading human rights organisation finds a rising level of crimes committed against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. The report was released yesterday by Human Rights First. Their most recent report examines hate-driven violence in the region from the Russian Federation and the Central Asian states across Europe to North America. “The growing public presence of the LGBT community in many countries has resulted in a violent backlash,” said Maureen Byrnes, executive director of Human Rights First. “These crimes often go unreported because the bias and stigma against these groups remain high and many governments fail to offer sufficient protections for victims of anti-gay crime.” The survey spotlights certain countries and incidents in great detail. For example, in February 2006, a group of boys confessed to murdering a Brazilian transgender woman living in isolation in Portugal. In February 2006, an 18-year-old male wounded three people with a hatchet and a handgun at a gay bar in the United States. And in March 2006, several people entered a private party in Croatia organized by a gay and lesbian group, attacking victims with glass bottles. “In countries in which LGBT people have become more visible, their increased public presence has in some cases brought with it a rise in homophobic rhetoric and a violent backlash” the report finds. “Such was the case when gay pride events were held in five eastern European cities during the spring and summer of 2006.” “Only ten countries in Europe and North America currently have laws which enable a sexual orientation bias to be considered an aggravating circumstance in the commission of a crime,” the study continues. “Even fewer – just Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States – have made a commitment to monitor such attacks in their official reporting on hate crimes. Leaders of the gay communities in many countries charge that there is a serious underreporting of these crimes, due in part to anti-gay prejudices – both real and perceived – on the part of the police. Although countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States are improving policies for the reporting of anti-gay crimes, the widespread lack of data on these crimes indicates that underreporting is still a major problem. Among other recommendations in its survey, Human Rights First urges governments to adopt stricter laws, provide more resources to law enforcement and establish official systems to monitor and report hate crimes on a regular basis. To view the full report, including all ten recommendations for governments, please visit Human Rights First on the link provided below.   Related links:     Ref: UK Gay News (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Thursday, 7th June 2007 - 12:00pm

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